Genesis 1-11 Assignment Comments
Most Hebrew scholars (and I would agree) believe Genesis 1:1-3 may legitimately be translated in a variety of ways so as to allow for a "less than exactly literal" interpretation. For example, the very first word in the text is bere'sh|4t which, taken as "pointed" (this is the term for adding the vowels to Hebrew, originally had no vowels), should actually be translated WITHOUT USING THE WORD "THE" – since it has no definite article (if it did, the word would be pointed bare'sh|4t).In other words, a more accurate translation would be "in beginning" (meaning, "to begin with").Taking the following phrase, we should read "when God began to create, the earth was formless and empty" (which translation implies that when God got around to doing what he did in Genesis 1:1, the earth was ALREADY formless and empty – God having already created it before Gen. 1:1)!Those who opt for this translation on grammatical grounds then speculate that there could have been long gaps of time between the initial creation event (prior to Gen. 1:1) and the event of Gen. 1:1.There are, of course, ways to get around the grammar here to defend the more literal sequential view, but the point is that either view (and at least one other) is possible and grammatically permissible.
We must be careful in interpreting the Old Testament NOT to read the New Testament back into the Old. This is the biggest problem I have with saying the plurals in Gen. 1:26 refer to the Trinity. An Israelite (even the most godly) would NEVER have interpreted his Bible this way. He simply didn't have the revelation from God to make that interpretation (notice that Hamilton favors the Trinitarian interpretation, but offers no OLD TESTAMENT verse to back his suggestion that we should read the plural this way).So the question becomes, for accurately interpreting Genesis (or any OT passage), should we be trying to arrive at what the Israelite thought or what WE think. I think the former is the goal, but we can always apply the OT meaning to our day. There ARE, however, cases where the NT quotes the OT and GIVES us an interpretation (under inspiration).In these cases, scholars argue whether the NT changes the OT – but this is well beyond the scope of this class.
Regarding Ezekiel 28 – note that there is ONE cherub in the garden (an angelic / divine being); he is not the same as the PLURAL cherubim sent to guard Eden AFTER the Fall. I didn't ask this in the question, but why do you suppose Eve wasn't surprised when the "serpent" spoke to her? Think about it.
If you believe that Gen 3:15 has something to do with the promise of a deliverer from the line of Eve, and Eve's offspring would be enemies of the serpent's offspring (seed), where would the "serpent" get offspring? What would the masculine serpent (he's referred to in masculine pronouns) need to produce offspring?